The debate about whether to allow chickens in residential areas has sprung up in numerous places across the country, including the Toledo suburb of Oregon, where these birds live.
BOWLING GREEN -- To Dr. Sherri Thomas, having a few chickens in the backyard means her table scraps are recycled, she gets healthful, fresh eggs to eat, her garden gets natural fertilizer from their waste, and she has good pets.
"My grandchildren will take them and push them on the swing and slide them down the slide," the local pediatrician said. "My grandson likes to put them on the railing of the back deck and watch them fly, even though chickens can't really fly.
"He thinks that's great fun and they seem to like it too because they run right back to him."
Despite the benefits she sees in having backyard chickens, her six birds -- Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Lucy, Ethel, and Nancy -- are not legal residents of Bowling Green.
The city's zoning code does not permit chickens or any kind of livestock, for that matter, except in the pockets of town zoned for agriculture.
Dr. Sherri Thomas says she does not breed chickens nor sell eggs, so her birds are not agricultural animals.
Dr. Thomas and a group of other pro-poultry residents are asking city council to change that code. The city planning commission's subcommittee on backyard chickens will hold its first meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday in council chambers at the Municipal Building, 304 N. Church St. Interested residents are invited to attend.
"Rather than take up the debate ourselves, I wanted this issue to be fully vetted in the public," said Fourth Ward Councilman Greg Robinette, who introduced the issue to city council at two residents' request. "I don't know where the public at large stands on it. It's too obscure."
Across the country, growing numbers of cities, such as Oregon locally, have debated the issue, and some permit chickens in residential areas.Dr. Thomas said she knows of several people in Bowling Green who have chickens, albeit illegal ones. She herself was cited by the city earlier this year.
"Last October, we got a warning saying we were violating a city ordinance because we are not allowed to have agricultural animals within the city limits," Dr. Thomas said. "I wrote a letter to the city saying we didn't have roosters. We didn't breed them. We did not sell the eggs so they would not in my opinion be considered agricultural animals."
When she didn't get a response from the city, she didn't think much more about it until February when she received a citation. That's when she started talking to city council members.
"They've been very cooperative. The process is going forward," she said.
The group's Facebook page, BG Backyard Chickens, touts itself as "a group of health conscious citizens who wish to see BG adopt an ordinance to allow backyard chickens."
Mr. Robinette said he has heard positive and negative comments about the idea.
"I think we will get a good fair hearing on the issue," he said. "I really can't predict where it will go. I honestly haven't made up my mind as to how I feel about it, but it seems like the appropriate time to put the issue on the table for discussion."
Contact Jennifer Feehan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6129.
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